Moderating the Mobile Marketing, Commerce and Apps table at Digital Cream Day Dubai

In February, Econsultancy hosted their annual Digital Cream Day at the Westin Mina Seyahi. The global versions of the event have been around for a few years but it was only the second year for the Dubai one.

The event aims to bring together client side marketers and provide a platform for discussion on all things digital marketing. In contrast to all the conferences we’ve seen and attended, the event facilitates a dialogue between the marketers as opposed to having a speaker speak at the audience. That’s not to say one is better than the other but in this setup the discussions gives result to some excellent insights on the pains and the pleasure of the marketers.

I was asked to moderate the Mobile Marketing, Commerce and Apps table at the event and I jumped at the chance of it. In a region where mobile penetration is above 100%, it was going to be interesting to see how marketers were adopting and adapting to this still very nascent medium.

I’ve penned down some key points of discussions from the three tables through the day on the Econsultancy blog. The two key takeaways – first marketers are still spread across the spectrum with some just getting started while others having rolled out advanced strategies; secondly iOS (unsurprisingly) remains a dominant platform, but Blackberry – despite its pervasiveness – is not considered optimal.

Read my post on the Econsultancy blog for more insights from the day.


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Why I’m supporting the UAE Blackberry ban

We’re just over 2 weeks away from the final decision about the Blackberry ban in the UAE and as we draw closer to the date, I find myself supporting the ban. Now I know this sounds absolutely ludicrous but hear me out, there is a (partly) sound logic behind this.

There is no doubt that the Blackberry does email like no other device and to businesses it is practically irreplaceable, but the reason it has picked up steam among end consumers – at least here in the UAE – is the Blackberry Messenger service. The instant messaging service has been a rage, especially among younger consumers, reducing their spend to a fraction of what it would be over text messaging. However, apart from these two capabilities, the Blackberry doesn’t put up much of a fight against the iPhone and Android devices. (The physical keyboard is fantastic but that’s hardly the decisive factor for end consumers) Bar a few, the applications on Blackberry don’t come close to matching those on the iPhone and Android, both in terms of functionality and a visual experience. More importantly the browser on the Blackberries (both OS4.x and OS5) makes browsing a chore and leaves a lot to be desired. Compare this to the speed and fluidity of the Android and iPhone browser and the Blackberry browser seems bloated and clunky.

Should the ban go into effect, a major chunk of the users who have tasted the mobile internet blood will move to a data enabled device; hopefully an iPhone or an Android. And with that happening, these users will spend more time browsing the internet on their mobiles and engaging with apps and games. This state of increased mobile web consumption is what I’m looking forward to so the region can move – albeit forcefully – towards being a more developed mobile audience.

Now I know that the Blackberry OS6 supports Webkit browsing and is a dramatic improvement over the previous versions but how many users can we really expect to make the jump? A survey by YouGov Siraj says about 2/3rd of the users will switch from their Blackberries should the ban come into effect.

At the end of it, I do hope that there is some form of a resolution, atleast for corporate users. But as consumers, I believe users stand to gain a lot more than they know, technologically speaking of course.


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Blackberry’s official Twitter application (beta) reviewed

I reviewed Blackberry’s official Twitter application – which is in beta – in Emirates Business 24/7

Click the image to see the full review.

Blackberry Twitter Application Review

Read the review on the official Emirates Business website

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